COLUMBIA — After playing soccer together since the sixth grade, Hickman twins Eric and Thomas Pekkala played their last game on their home field Tuesday night.
The Pekkalas are fraternal twins and have always been on the same team growing up playing soccer together.
“It was pretty exciting since it was our last game on Hickman field,” Eric Pekkala said. "It’s sad, though, since Thomas and I will never play an organized sport together again after this season."
Thomas Pekkala said, “It’ll be sad not playing with my brother and these guys anymore, and that we won’t be working together.”
Eric Pekkala made the most of the meaningful night by scoring the winning overtime penalty kick. The Kewpies defeated visiting Helias 5-3. Hickman plays next against Waynesville at 6:45 p.m. Friday in Rolla.
“They’re a part of my first group that I started coaching, I’m going to miss them and I’m glad we were able to get a ‘W’ on their senior night,” Hickman head coach Adam Taylor said.
Both Pekkalas play defense and have many of the same mannerisms, but according to Taylor, who has known them for four years, they seem to have just as many dissimilarities.
When it comes to their similarities in looks, the twins say a lot of people tell them apart by Eric Pekkala’s cowlick. But since many of the Kewpies have played with with the Pekkalas since sixth grade the twins said their team has gotten used to them.
Hickman assistant coach, Tony Gragnani, apparently hasn’t gotten the hang of it quite yet. After calling one of them by the wrong name, the team made a new rule that requires him to do push-ups when he makes the mistake.
“They have different personalities, but they both complement each other and feed off each other really well,” Taylor said. “They are both shy at first, Thomas more so than Eric. Eric jokes around quite a bit more than Thomas. It doesn’t take him as long to warm up.”
They claim they get along well together, that they always have and never really get in fights. Yet they still seem to compete. Thomas Pekkala said that they do a lot together, especially soccer, but at home they like to do their own thing.
“We’re pretty competitive with each other, in soccer, in school, girls,” Eric Pekkala jokes.
On the field, they’re not best friends. They have separate groups of friends on the team, but they bring both groups of friends together. When they go to out of town games and tournaments, they don’t sit together and they don’t stay in the same hotel room.
“They still get along great, though. Yeah, they bicker between each other just like normal siblings do, but all in all they get along well,” Taylor said.
Although Eric and Thomas Pekkala are not exactly alike, they both agreed that their favorite memory of playing together was when they held Rockhurst scoreless, saying that that was one of the best games they’ve played together.